O'ahu, Hawaii

Well, it's been a long time since I sat still long enough to focus on our blog so I apologize in advance for neglecting our family and friends in cyberspace. I will begin with quick updates to bring our blog up to speed wth our recent travels, but first we'll figuratively hop into a DeLorean and travel back to December 2011.
After wrapping up the Verizon Street Team Tour, Casey and I took our hotel points to the bank and cashed in on a two week trip to Hawaii island hopping from O'ahu to Maui to Kaua'i. In this blog, I'll do my best to chronicle our time in O'ahu for those planning a trip to America's 50th state.

(Hilton Hawaiian Village)

1. We were lucky enough to stay in Hilton's fabulous Hawaiian Village in Waikiki where we received an upgrade to the Ali'i Tower complete with breakfast, private pool and an ocean view (I know--gag me, right?). It was an incredible hotel and I only mention this because if you are planning a trip to O'ahu this is a fantastic hotel, with many amenities located in the "village," walking distance to Honolulu's "Rodeo Drive" (Kalakaua Ave), restaurants, bars, moped/motorcycle/bike rentals, steps from public transportation and equipped with breathtaking views of Diamond Head.

(View from our hotel room)

Tips: Peak season for Hawaii is late December through early March. Plan your trip in the "off-season" for better rates. 

2. On our first night in O'ahu we were adjusting to the time change from the Midwest and opted for a dinner at one of Travel Channel's 21 Sexiest Beach Bars and what the locals would consider a tourist trap: Duke's Waikiki. Yes, it was full of tourists but yes, it's also a sexy beach bar with a gorgeous view of Waikiki beach and tropical drinks to brighten your night after the sun sets. Walking distance from the Hilton Hawaiian Village, I would highly recommend this island chain as a kickoff to your sultry getaway.

(Duke's Waikiki "Lava Flow" drink, a tropical vacation in a glass)
(The view from Duke's Waikiki patio)

3. When you mention O'ahu, Honolulu or even Hawaii for that matter the first thought or "attraction" (for lack of a better word) you may think of is Pearl Harbor. As president of my high school's history club (nerd) this was a must see and our main reason for flying into O'ahu versus Maui. It is such a beautiful memorial for the soldiers we lost on that horrific day, but it was a definitely an eerie feeling to be there especially as we paid our respects on December 8, 2011, just one day after the 70th anniversary of the attack. 

I found it to be very educational in many different ways as my emotions fought to organize themselves in my head and in my heart. Not to label myself, but I am very liberal and it was hard to consume the constant propaganda displayed during this memorial. I felt moved by the lives that were disrupted on such a normal day, a country that was shaken from a "neutral position" despite making a statement with a hefty embargo, a resilient force that brought our country together (something that was mimicked once again in 2001) and a deep sadness for the lives that were taken and the families affected on that tragic day (both in America and overseas). The memorial is utterly fascinating displaying stories in remembrance from those that lost their lives, from narrations of that horrific day and how it affected the island thereafter but what I found sad was that the exhibit did not display or touch on our country's mistakes following the attack such as imprisoning many innocent Japanese-Americans in internment camps.

I am a believer in learning from mistakes and I think it's crucial that our actions thereafter the attack of Pearl Harbor be admitted and be put on display. The fact that our country put innocent Americans into prison camps because of their racial profile should be discussed and could have helped our country in many ways after 9/11 as many Muslims in our country, who were born Americans, are fighting discrimination and warding off association from extremists they do not identify with.

Sorry to get on my soap box, but I just wish the exhibit showcased not only our strengths but our weaknesses during and after the attack. I feel as if this is a lesson, a learning experience and something everyone should experience in their lifetime in order to pay proper respects and form their own opinions. 

Arrive around 7-7:30 a.m. for the Pearl Harbor exhibit (especially during Hawaii's peak season) to receive free tickets to see the USS Arizona Memorial. The memorial site gives a certain amount of free passes each day to visitors, but be sure to arrive early to receive one. Casey and I were there at 7:30 a.m. and the free passes we received were not until the 10:30 a.m. tour, that's how fast they go! 
Secondly, leave your children at home or educate them on the importantance of this memorial. There were many people perturbed by children who were obnoxious during the memorial of the USS Arizona in which everyone is asked to be quiet and pay their respects to those who are still entombed in the ship and for those that died that day. 
Speaking of the USS Arizona, oil still leaks from the ship 70 years later...a truly powerful image to experience in person. 

4. After taking in Pearl Harbor, Casey and I were able to hop on public transportation to hike Diamond Head crater. Another "must-do" in O'ahu not only for the history and the fitness, but for these incredible views when you reach the top. 

Tip: O'ahu is the one island where you can get around everywhere via public transportation and do not need to rent a car, however renting a car is highly recommended for Maui and Kaua'i. 

There are many countries and cultures to see and learn about in this world, but there are many amazing cities and sites to see in our very own country. I hope everyone is able to experience the incredible beauty, sites and experiences that O'ahu has to offer. 

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